Magnificent Handloom Sarees from Odisha

Orissa or Odisha has a rich heritage of textile and weaving art. In fact, textile weaving is a major industry in the state that supports thousands of weavers and related craftspeople. The indigenous styles of fabric dyeing and weaving in the state have found inspiration from old religious texts and traditions. Unlike in other states, sarees from Orissa have been mostly influenced by the Hindu religious texts – especially, those revolving around Krishna.

One interesting fact to note is that the weavers in Nuapatna in Cuttack district weave a special silk that has verses from the epic poem Gita Govinda embroidered in them. This special fabric is used to dress the idols in the famous Jagannath temple, and because of the strong influence of Krishna, the sarees often depict temple borders, traditional colours associated with Lord Jagannath, and other mythological designs.

Odisha is known for its silk and cotton. The region produces different types of tussar silk and very sturdy cotton. The Tussar from Odisha has a smoother texture and shinier finish and interestingly, this state is best known for its own style of Ikat dyeing and weaving. As a matter of fact, when we talk about sarees from Odisha, the first thing that comes to mind is its signature ikat, whether in silk or cotton; so famous is the dyeing and weaving art from the state.

Sambalpuri Ikat or Bandha Saree

The most popular of sarees from Orissa, Sambalpur ikat uses what the locals call Bandhkala or yarn tie-dye method. The Sambalpur ikat woven in both cotton and silk use the double ikat method where both the warp and the weft yarns are tie-dyed first and then set into a pattern for weaving. These saree are woven in Sambalpur, Berhampur, Mayurbhanj and Nuapatna, and they have beautiful nature-inspired motifs like a shell, flowers, chakra and rudraksha not just on the border and pallav, but also all over the body. The more intricate the work, the pricier it is.

While the saree is often called Sambalpur Ikat, each small town where this weaving technique is used adds its own flavour the Bandha saree. Sambalpuri Ikat is also popular in the cotton version, while Nuapatna sarees which uses the same weaving technique and has similar designs are mostly available in soft silk and Tussar silk. Berhampur sarees are mostly very heavy silk sarees with thin borders. The motifs are not very intricate, and the sarees mostly have temple border woven-in ikat style.

Bomkai Or Sonepuri Saree

Bomkai silk sarees are a treasure to own. Often woven in soft silk, the Bomkai saree uses a combination of Ikat weaving along with silk or resham thread embroidery on the pallav and the border. The sarees mostly have a plain body with detailed pallav. The body of the saree can also have very small ikat designs, and the pallav mostly have very intricate patterns along with ikat weaving. The motifs are inspired by tribal art, and mostly have nature-based themes. The colours are mostly bright – the palette often revolves around black, red, yellow, orange, and blue.

The Bomkai cotton saree, which a similar rendition but in cotton fabric, is woven in the Ganjam district, often has embroidered temple spires on the pallav and the border. Weavers take inspiration from tribal art to create the Bomkai cotton sarees.

Pasapali Saree or Saktapar Sari

Woven in Bargarh in Orissa, the Saktapar or Pasapalli saree is an ikat saree. The design and weave of the saree is inspired by the checkerboard or passa as it is called in the local language. The saree is woven in double ikat that produces a checkerboard pattern and its border is often braced and gives the overall saree a sophisticated look. The colours are always vibrant and bright.

Khandua Saree

It is one of the most intricate of Orissa ikat sarees. Khandua sarees often made in soft silk or Malda silk has the very intricate pattern all over the saree. The border mostly has simple temple ikat design or very basic ikat pattern. The pallav has very detailed ikat work, which takes a long time to weave. These type of saree are worn by the women in Orissa during weddings and other festive events. Traditionally, Khandua sarees are made in red, sunset yellow and orange colours. The borer and pallav are generally in black, red and blue colours that adds to the sophistication of the saree.

Khandua saris are also known as Maniabandi or Kataki. These are a traditional "bandha" or ikat saris. Auspicious drapes, they are known to be worn by the Lord Jagannath, and are thus, worn by women for weddings and special occasions. The traditional Khandua material contains texts and illustrations from Gita Govinda. One of these extremely special Khandua saree types is the famed Navakothi – a material that has all the 9 main motifs (of Vessels, Peacocks, Beetel Leaves, Animals & Flowers) from Odisha.

Berhampuri Saree or Berhampur Pata

Also known as the silk city of India, Berhampur – or the city of Lord Brahma – in Odisha – is where the famed, yet now flailing, Berhampuri Patta silk saris are woven. Unique for the fact that they are made in Joda (pairs) – the sari for the women, and the matching joda for the men, these iconic drapes are known for their typical Odissi weaving style – and also the kumbha or temple design. Their famous temple style designs are colloquially known as ‘phoda kumbha’ or ‘badhi kumbha’. These precious saris were once the pride of Orissa, and were worn by brides for their wedding ceremony.

Classy Sarees for every occasion

The special thing about sarees from Orissa is the vibrant colour and texture of the fabrics. When you go to pick up an Orissa saree, you are bound to get awed by the range of exquisite weaves, embroideries and versatile designs on the saree.

Most of these sarees have a very sophisticated feel to them. They can be worn for work or even for everyday wear – you just need to pick up the right one for a specific need. Every saree lover should own at least one Odisha silk saree with Ikat weaving, and another in simpler, more subtle weaves in cottons or SiCo.

To a novice eye, saris from Odhisha and Bengal may appear similar. However, they have their finer nuances that differentiate them from each other. Many of these varieties made in Orissa are sometimes thicker and more textured, at time even more lustrous, than the cottons and silk-cottons made in Bengal. While the materials and drapes from each of these two are precious and gorgeous in their own way – your wardrobe is incomplete without either of these.

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